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A special statutory leave entitlement for parents, for the purpose of caring for their child. The right to claim such leave is possessed by employees who live in a household with a child for whom they are entitled to have custody and who care for the child themselves, if during the period of childcare leave they do not engage in gainful employment. The same applies in the case of employment for up to 19 hours per week. No entitlement exists in the case of a married couple where one of the spouses is not economically active. If a child is cared for by more than one person fulfilling the conditions for entitlement, only one of these persons may claim childcare leave. They may, however, share the leave between them.

Childcare leave can be claimed starting from the end of the period of maternity protection , i.e. from 8 or 12 weeks after the birth (maternity protection), up to the end of the month in which the child becomes 18 months old (this is to be extended to two years as from 1993). During this period there is an entitlement to childcare payment . The main obligations arising from the employment relationship are suspended during childcare leave, which means that the employee does not have to perform work and the employer does not have to pay remuneration, unless they have reached an agreement on part-time work. Entitlement to payments from the employer which are in consideration not of actual work performance but of loyal service, for example, continues unchanged.

There is an absolute ban on dismissal during childcare leave, with the same conditions applying as during the period of maternity protection. For the purposes of health insurance , unemployment insurance , the statutory pension scheme and occupational pension schemes , the period of childcare leave is basically treated as a period of employment counting towards entitlements (Federal Childcare Payment and Childcare Leave Act ยงยง 15 ff.).

Childcare leave is claimed by approximately 97 per cent. of parents (the father being the one who takes leave in fewer than 1 per cent. of cases).

Please note: the European industrial relations glossaries were compiled between 1991 and 2003 and are not updated. For current material see the European industrial relations dictionary.

Page last updated: 14 August, 2009